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Northstar Winery releases Northstar Premier

Northstar Winery unveiled a new limited production, ultra-premium Merlot bottling – Northstar Premier – during a celebration of the tenth anniversary of the opening of its estate winery in Walla Walla on Saturday.

Northstar Premier was created to showcase the very best lots of Merlot from among the best vineyard sites in Washington with each new vintage. Beyond other current offerings, Northstar Premier is crafted to reward cellaring for decades to come.

The 2009 vintage of Northstar Premier, totaling less than two hundred cases, is composed entirely of Merlot and was sourced exclusively from the esteemed Cold Creek Vineyard. Situated in the center of the Columbia Valley appellation northwest of the Tri-Cities, Cold Creek Vineyard was originally planted in 1973, making it one of Washington’s oldest vineyard sites.

From the inception of Northstar Premier, previously known as the “Big Dipper” until the final name was selected earlier this year, winemaker David “Merf” Merfeld sought to craft a wine that would show the broader wine world the full potential of Merlot from Washington State – a region long recognized as a global leader in the production of this noble grape variety. Unlike Merlot from many other regions, Merlot from Washington generally offers the structure and power often associated with Cabernet Sauvignon combined with the lush fruit and aromatics typically found in Merlot.

“The 2009 Northstar Premier is a Washington Merlot for the ages,” said Merfeld. “This wine is drinking beautifully now, and it will continue to evolve and age gracefully for fifteen to twenty years.”

Northstar first debuted in 1997 with the release of the 1994 vintage. In 2001, Northstar purchased and planted 30 acres of prime vineyard land in Walla Walla, and the estate winery opened its doors there in 2002. Since then, Northstar has continued to garner critical acclaim as among the finest Merlot producers in the world.

Ted Baseler, President and CEO of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, which owns Northstar Winery and Cold Creek Vineyard, said, “This is an important milestone for our winery. Washington has always had a reputation for outstanding Merlot, but Northstar Premier shows that Washington is capable of producing truly iconic, world-class wines.”

“We’re extremely proud to celebrate ten years at home here in the Walla Walla Valley, and we look forward to many more successful years ahead in this wonderful wine community,” Baseler added.

Since before the first grapes were harvested more than three years ago, through the entire vinification and cellaring process and culminating in the bottling of Northstar Premier this spring, award-winning writer Leslie Kelly has detailed the progress of this long-awaited wine in a series of stories, photographs and videos called “The Big Dipper Chronicles.” The entire collection of “The Big Dipper Chronicles” can be found on Northstar’s website at